Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Repression against Queer Activists

The Bash Back Inifinity’s lawyer just had to drop
their case! They are in need of a new lawyer!
Please contact


Queer activists need your help to defend against the Alliance Defense Fund.

On November 9th, 2008 activists from the
international queer liberation group, Bash Back!
protested the stance and actions of the
notoriously anti-queer mega-church, Mount Hope at
their headquarters compound in Lansing, Michigan.
While some of the group danced, chanted and held
signs out side of the building, a small group
proceeded into the church to conduct a
demonstration by hanging a banner that read “It’s
OK to be GAY!”, and handing out support leaflets
targeted toward the queer youth. As the activists
had been careful to remain legal, the police made
no charges. So in May of 2009 a right-wing legal
group, the Alliance Defense Fund filed a federal
law suit on behalf of Mt. Hope Church under the
Freedom of Access to Clinical Entrances Act,
naming 13 individuals, as well as Bash Back! as
a whole, Bash Back! Lansing, and 20 “John” and
“Jane Doe”s (yet to be identified). The suit
seeks an injunction that could seriously hinder
future activism that resists the
institutionalization of religious fundamentalism.
As well as an unknown sum of money in supposed
“damages” and trial costs. Thankfully, we can
count on our community and allies to step up.
Tracie Dominic Palmer, an activist attorney with
the National Lawyers Guild has been wonderful in
supporting the group and has been diligently
attempting to negotiate as well as building a
defense, pro-bono! But as everyone knows, this is
far from free. In the end, even in victory, it
will have cost her as well as everyone involved
in the defense a great deal emotionally and
monetarily. Bottom line: We need your help.

The ADF and Mt. Hope are working double time now
to oppress queer people and crush all those that
oppose them. To be clear, the main objective of
their efforts is to plant fear and hesitation in
confronting bigotry. This is why they also
subpoenaed 20 “John” and “Jane does” (which we
have chosen to call Jesse Does to remove the
gendering of anyone) in addition to the 13 named
defendants. Allowing them to pick anyone they
want, whenever they want, and claim affiliation
with Bash Back! This is why the defense is called
the “Mt. Hope Infinity”. Again, it is extremely
important to understand that the injunction seeks
to set legal precedence that would seriously
restrict future activism of this nature. Imagine
it being legally impossible to protest
anti-choice organizations or “ex-gay”
conferences. In fact, as attorney Tracie Palmer
has stressed, we may very well be making new law
regarding these types of demonstrations. This is
a serious concern, not just for the individuals
involved, but for all liberation activism.
~With the queerest love and rage.
Bash Back!

* It is important to note that since the action,
some of the websites have been altered. For
example, you now have to input personal
information and complete a phone interview to
find out details regarding the Dunami sexual “support group”.

The Action

There were 3 goals of this action. One was to
effect the youth. Many of the youth are so
sheltered, brainwashed and threatened that the
thought of gays actually being in their community
is unbelievable, while trans identity isn’t even
in their scope. Not to mention they are taught
that having such thoughts or feelings are a great
perversion worthy of burning for all eternity.
The leaflets that were distributed explained that
not only are their feelings of same gender
attraction or personal gender confusion are
natural, but that we are right here and there is
a diverse and supportive queer/trans and allied
community that is active, accepting and visible.
The leaflet also provided resources. The second
goal was to make visible to the leaders of Mt.
Hope that we are paying attention and we are
outraged. The third was to bring radical queer
organizing back into the scope of the mainstream
person. To show that we haven’t disappeared into
HRC or the marriage debate. That we aren’t just
begging for scraps. That with the momentum of
Stonewall we continue to demand total liberation for all people.

The action its self was done peacefully and in a
way to remain legal so no charges could be
pressed against anyone. There was no blockading,
no confrontations with parishioners or security.
The indoor group left before being asked,
literally as soon as all leaflets were
delivered. When asked to leave, the outdoor
protest moved directly to the sidewalk. Also,
despite what Mt. Hope claims, no one from Bash Back! pulled a fire alarm.

The Church

To provide you with a broader understanding of
the situation, it is important to know why Mount
Hope Church was selected for protest. The Mount
Hope Church is a deplorable anti-queer,
anti-choice, mega-church with many locations
around the world! And is a lead organizer and
contributor to a thick network of conservative
organizations. Mt. Hope’s headquarters (with
hundreds of parishioners) is in Lansing,
Michigan. With an exclusively right-wing agenda,
the church works to institutionalize transphobia
and homophobia through several repulsive projects
including “ex-gay” programs and so-called “hell
houses” around Halloween which depict queers, trans people and
womyn who seek abortions as demon possessed or
burning in hell. According to Mt. Hope’s dogma
homosexuality is considered “sexual addiction”.
Openly lumping being gay in with sexual sinners
such as as peeping-Toms, flashers and even
rapists!!! These “addictions” they work
to “cure” through strict “support groups” such
as Dunamai. At times even sending men to live in
brainwashing camps such as Pure Life
Ministries. They also organize with other
“ex-gay” organizations such as Love in Action,
Homosexuals Anonymous, and L.I.F.E. Ministries.
It is clear that Mt. hope is complicit in the
repression of queers, trans people, and womyn, in Michigan and abroad.

Where are we now?

The Bash Back Inifinity’s lawyer just had to drop
their case! They are in need of a new lawyer!
Please contact

Sometime after the original subpoenas, as well as
a letter threatening to confiscate all
electronics from the defendants, the ADF
announced that they would be willing to
negotiate. Their offer was that each person named
would pay one thousand dollars each to Mt. Hope
Church. As well as submit official apologies, and
sworn statements never to demonstrate at a place
of worship again. Clearly this is a vague and
frankly, insulting offer. Currently, the defense
is drafting a response and a counter offer. It is
very likely this case will proceed to trial. Then
likely to an appeal, despite who wins, then
onward… Through all of this, the defense NEEDS
YOUR SUPPORT. None of the legal steps are free
and everyone is understandably stressed. This is
a great opportunity to support the queer
liberation movement and those who sacrifice for
it. And straight-allies, here’s a damn good time
to show some solidarity and put your actions where your mouth is.

* The ADF has recently claimed that a threatening
note was received by the church from a Bash Back!
Bash Back! does NOT claim responsibility for this
note, and did not advise anyone else to do it.
Bash Back! has complied with the preliminary
injunction to remain off Mt. Hope premises.
Please note that Bash Back! is in court
currently, and any actions taken toward the church could damage the defense.

* In Early April 2010 a former member of Chicago
Bash Back was subpoenaed to testify.

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